In recent months, the Gateway- Longview Preventive Services Kinship Program has continued to provide kinship care services to families across Erie County. Kinship families consist of a child that has been placed with a relative ("kin”) caregiver that provides a safe, caring and supportive living environment for a child. Since the pandemic began, Gateway-Longview Kinship Caseworkers have delivered services that range from ensuring families have their basic needs met, verifying the safety of children, and connecting families to housing and educational supports.
Kinship Case workers have also provided kinship families with educational information related to COVID-19 resources and referrals and linkages to services. Despite many uncertainties during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kinship Staff and Kinship Caseworkers, Mario Bermudez and Shakara Colbert, have provided consistent services to kinship care givers, children and biological parents.
Traditionally, the Gateway- Longview Preventive Services Kinship Program, will host on three to four kinship nights within a year. Kinships nights were established to highlight kinship families and to provide information and support for kinship families. Due to recent restrictions kinship staff have been creative with finding alternatives to kinship nights and to highlight kinship families such as a “Kinship Care Bag” for families to enjoy sporting equipment, a gift card, games, summer activities and additional items.
In addition to this month’s initiative, the “Kinship School Supplies Backpack Giveaway”, which provided all kinship children with a host of school supplies such as a back pack, notebooks, writing utensils, headphones and much more, Kinship Caseworkers delivered 19 backpacks to kinship families.
Although, providing kinship services during this time has presented many challenges the Kinship Caseworkers manage to give their best efforts to families. The Kinship Staff would also like to thank the kinship care givers within our communities for their compassion and patience during this time.
We look forward to continuing with creative kinship nights until we are able to move forward with traditional kinship nights. For more information, on contacting Gateway Longview's Kinship staff, click here.
If you are in need of information related to kinship services and kinship services during the pandemic information and resources are available on the following websites:
Annie E. Casey Foundation: https://www.aecf.org/
NYS Kinship Navigator: http://www.nysnavigator.org/